Masterclass with Kyra Kyrklund

Kyra Masterclass

One could say I’m addicted to learning and attending masterclasses. Another 3am start to a rainy Friday morning on my way down to Sydney International Airport ready to depart on my early morning flight to Christchurch with Air New Zealand. I was excited to be attending Equidays, especially to sit in listening to Kyra Kyrklund. What an opportunity!

I visited Equidays briefly on the Saturday afternoon following on from my own morning horse activities, Kyra had a 45-minute demonstration in the main arena. I thought this was a great opportunity for a sneak peek with the masterclass the following day.

In the short demo Kyra focused on the rider position and balance, which I find absolutely fascinating, I feel this is one subject that is left untouched. Ensuring the riders were sitting even in the saddle. Not slouching to one side, forwards or backwards. It’s amazing to see how much the body influences the horse and their movement. Getting the riders to turn their heads to the outside and ride a smaller circle, using their body, influencing the horses body to ride the smaller circle. It sounds like a simple exercise, but it was rather effective with the riders on the day. This was only a very short insight on what we would be installed for on Sundays masterclass.

Kyra Masterclass

With a few ideas in my mind from Saturdays demonstration, I woke to a beautiful sunny, crystal clear Sunday morning in Christchurch. Equidays opened the gates early for all the keen Kyra fans eagerly awaiting a morning of learning.

The morning kicked off with the first rider, Kyra following on from the short session on the Saturday about the rider’s body position and balance. If you are learning to one side the horse is going to want to fall to that side to support the riders weight. Kyra made an interesting training suggestion, all the riders who rode on the day were asked to use a monkey grip. Which she pointed out what a great training tool this can be for the rider. With the rider using it with their inside hand, allowing them to keep a still, steady and soft contact with the horse. Whilst having the outside hand controlling the tempo of the horse, remember to pat the horse with the outside hand. For two reasons, one, allowing the rider to relax the outside rein aid and two, rewarding the horse.

Whilst the focus of the first rider was about body position, this might not seem fascinating to all riders. But Kyra gave some important tips:

Head down only focuses on the front of the horse

Don’t stare at the horse’s neck, learn to look around

Repetition is the mother of learning – Which I couldn’t agree more.

With the second horse now entering the arena, the rider previously mentioned to Kyra that she really wants to ride a good shoulder in! Didn’t my note taking go crazy with this horse. First up, Kyra worked through the leg yielding, in walk down the long side. Changing the bend into renvers and keeping the hinds on the wall.

When you reach the end of the long side, move the hind leg with small steps and turn on the fore. Kyra expressed to the audience how valuable the turn on the fore really is to our training. Several trainers and riders do not use this as a training tool with their own training as it can be difficult, which she also told the audience this is probably why you do not see it in many dressage tests these days.

Moving on from this exercise along the wall, it was time to put it to the test down the centre line. Walk down the centre line, leg yield, turn on the fore. As Kyra lightly mentioned “he is not a supermarket trolley, you do not need to push all the way”

By taking the horse through these exercises you learn to take the hind in and put the hind back. Having that control. Kyra quiet clearly pointed out to the audience shoulder in you take the front in not keep the hind leg out. She made a comment with the position of shoulder in is if you wanted to take your horse off the wall to do a circle. Then travers is when you ride a circle but you think not to finish it. Sounds simple doesn’t it. She also mentioned that using the walk as a large half halt, make the horse listen and think.

The third horse rode into the arena, Kyra is on point with keeping the theme of the rider’s position. This time it was all about the rhythm and tempo. Learning to slow down the tempo with your body and not from the rein aids.

While the rider was trotting around in rising trot, Kyra got her to think of slowing her rise down. This helps the horse bring back in the trot. She then went on the explain when you are sitting trot, think of slowing down the bounce to get the smaller trot strides.

Kyra Masterclass

Kyra had a great exercise for the crowd, she had us all stand up straight and see if we could get out knee up high around our belly buttons. I admit this was a little difficult! Then she asked us to round out backs and see how we could get our knees up. If you’re not standing up now and trying this I’ll let you in on a secret. It is A LOT easier! She pointed out how the horse needs to be round across the back for the hind legs to come up and through, riders who have their horse round across the back are making it very difficult for themselves.

I honestly enjoyed every minute of Kyra’s masterclass, she left the crowd eager to learn more. You can tell why she is one of the best trainers.

Here are my main training tips from Kyra’s masterclass at Equidays in Christchurch.
  • Leg yield not rein yield
  • Horse needs to be round over the back for the hind legs to come up and through
  • Repetition is the mother of learning
  • Think of shoulder in “do I want to do a circle”
  • Think of travers “do I want to finish my circle”
  • Bump slowly in sitting trot to bring the horse back.

 

Thank you Equidays NZ for bringing Kyra so close to Aussie shores for us to be able to attend such an inspirational and educational masterclass.

Inspirational Masterclass of the Year- Part 2

Who doesn’t want to sit in on a masterclass with Charlotte Dujardin? I was fortunate to travel to the Brisbane CDI to witness what would be the masterclass of 2017. If you missed viewing part 1 of the Inspirational Masterclass of the year, you can view it here.

It is amazing to see the consistency with her teaching throughout the levels, keeping everything simple and breaking it down. Nothing seemed complicated and Charlotte was getting the best out of each horse and rider combinations on the day.

With the next horse in the arena training advanced, Charlotte brought to our attention that it is important to ensure that us as riders, we are looking up at our line and not looking down. Discipline is key with every horse, every transitions count, every movement practiced need to be to the horse best ability. Throughout this level of training, our half halts should be invisible, you should not be able to see a good half halt at this level!

However, we must remember not to hold and kick at the same time! We need to allow the horse to move forward, you can’t have both the break and the accelerator on at once! Charlotte tells us how she prefers to do the canter work first after warming up. She finds it helps the horse and make them more supple in the trot.

It is also a refreshing reminder, as riders we should be doing exercise off the horse. We should be going to the gym working on our own fitness and core strength to help us ride independently. It’s so easy to forget, we train our horses day in and day out we have set out the best routine for them to ensure they are on the right path to achieve the best in the arena. The horse is classified an athlete, as they should. But is it so easy to forget to work on our own fitness off the horse, our diet, our fitness program to ensure that we are also achieving the best we possibly can.

With this level we stated to look at the canter pirouette exercises, on a circle start riding travers then into shoulder fore, then back into travers again. By moving the horse in and moving the horse out, we are controlling the horses body. Another exercise we witnessed, K X half pass right. On the centreline move into shoulder fore, half ten meter circle right in travers to the long side. Then back into half pass right to X again.

As we progress with the horses training and the advanced movements, we must remember to give the horse a break.

The next horse we see in the arena for the Riders xoxo Masterclass, a beautiful mare that is currently training and competing Small Tour. Instantly Charlotte mentions during warming up, to do easy lines, use leg yielding to get your leg on, especially on a hotter horse. At this level the sideways movements need to become a lot steeper. By using a steeper leg yield, we can prepare for the steeper half passes.

At all times during our training the rider must be in control of the horse, not the horse being in control of the rider. We need to keep asking the horse questions during our training. We need to change it around, ride on a bit and ride back a bit, we need to create the rideability of the horse. Charlotte mentions through out any part of the horses training the rider must be so disciplined, we must never accept anything that is less than the best of the horse’s ability.

The crowd witnessed more canter pirouette exercises, this time starting to work on the canter working forward and working back, testing the horse. Charlotte explains as riders we mustn’t let the horse take over and start to turn when we ask for a smaller canter. She also explains to the crowd, who might I add have their eyes glued to the center of the arena taking every single word in. That even during the canter pirouettes when the canter gets smaller, we must keep the canter jumping, keeping that hind leg active.

Moving on from the canter pirouette exercises, Charlotte works the combination through a few trotting exercises. The crowd witnessed a breathtaking extended trot from the beautiful mare, Charlotte mentions that in the extended trot we need a good push from the hind leg and a good reach with the foreleg. The extended trot must cover ground.

For a horse that wants to collapse in the downwards transitions, it is handy to ride a lot of half transitions then go forward. This encourages the horses from anticipating the ‘stop’.

Our next and final horse we witness at the Brisbane CDI Masterclass is the Big Tour combination.

Charlotte ensured the crowd that Grand Prix movements are very difficult! Especially if the movements are worth double marks, a mistake could be very costly. The movements come at you quickly, the rider must be thinking quickly. It comes down to your training, and making it a habit to be on the ball, thinking quick. In particular, with your training, the training is so important leading up to this level, you do not want to be fixing mistakes! As Charlotte pointed out, you are NEVER too good to learn.

Charlotte worked the combination through the half pass, she insisted the shoulders need to be leading at the start of the half pass. In the trot take the shoulders first then think to slow down the forelegs just slightly. Then to work on keeping it parallel during the movement. While working on the canter zig zags, she mentioned as a rider to think of sweeping up the school not sideways.

While Charlotte was working on the passage, she mentions to keep the horse quicker in the hind legs not slower. Think of changing your leg aids to both, alternating between left leg and right leg. While working from passage into piaffe, it is important to have a smooth transition, ease in and ease out of the movements.

Charlotte tells the crowd to ride forward in piaffe, not just an on the spot piaffe. It is so important to be in control and to have gears. Keep it forward thinking while developing an on the spot piaffe.

 

My top tips from Charlotte from the Advanced to Big Tour horse:

Remember as rider to exercise off the horse to work on your core strength

Half halts should be invisible

Look at your line

You can’t have the break and accelerator on at once

You are never too good to learn

Charlotte masterclass

For anyone who attended the Masterclass at the Brisbane CDI would agree when I say it was the more than an inspirational masterclass of the year. We are so fortunate Charlotte made the special trip back to Australia to fill our minds with knowledge and to leave us inspired with our training and goals.

During the day, Charlotte made a special point on how Dressage is an individual sport. But it is most important that we work as a team. Having someone to train with, if you don’t have someone to train with mirrors are extremely useful. Or having someone on the ground videoing your training can be beneficial. With Charlotte explaining how each and every day when she trains with Carl, she feels inspired by him day in and day out. It really makes you appreciate all the hard work and dedication they have towards the sport. True role models for all riders around the globe.

The spectators on the day were under strict instruction there was to be NO photographs of the riders or of the Masterclass.  Photos are before the event commenced.